“Initially I wanted to build a whole building inside the building here,” said Carlos Garaicoa of his latest solo exhibition at Turin’s Fondazione Merz. Architecture has been a pivotal theme of the acclaimed Cuban artist’s work since the early 1990s, and in ‘El Palacio de las Tres Historias’ (The Palace of the Three Stories) he explores the history of the northern Italian city through its buildings.
Specially commissioned for the exhibition, this new body of work transforms the Fondazione Merz, a former Fiat workshop, into a town square. Through large-scale installations, photographic works and videos visitors are invited to consider the city as an ideal space and a symbol of failed realities. Garaicoa focuses on the different aspects that characterise the city’s landscape, and creates an interplay between history and future and reality and invention.
The exhibition begins with a series of rotating prismatic panels, resembling the billboards that towered over the city in the past, but which display images of Turin and text that allude to the world today.
The largest installation is a double height steel structure that echoes the architecture of the Fondazione. But it is in fact a reworking of the space that suggests a new perspective where inside and outside merge.
The show closes with a new animated video work, ‘Abismo’, which sees two isolated and seemingly anonymous hands conducting Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps. The musical score was composed in a concentration camp and the hand gestures are those of a fascist dictatorship. Taken out of their original context Garaicoa creates a new narrative.
“There’s a big connection [in Turin] between industry, war and fascism, and I wanted to think about that,“ the artist told wallpaper.com. “The whole exhibition deals with the connection between art and ideology, how artisans, artists and intellectuals get involved with propaganda and politics.”
Born in Havana in 1967, Garaicoa trained as an engineer before undertaking mandatory military service. At twenty-two he enrolled at the Havana Instituto Superior de Arte where he became interested in the language of architecture, and has since employed various media, from photography, drawing and sculpture to performance, installation and video to comment and reflect on its impact on the political, economic and cultural reality of cities.
Though he is based in Havana, Garaicoa has exhibited extensively around the world, and in addition to his solo exhibitions has had his works included in major international exhibitions such as the Havana Bienal, Johannesburg Biennale, São Paulo Bienal, Documenta 11, Venice Biennale and 'Shapes of Space' at the Guggenheim Museum.
‘El Palacio de las Tres Historias’ is showing until 4th February, 2018.